Canelo will meet Britain’s undefeated super-middleweight champion, Saunders, on May 8 with the WBA, WBC, and WBO championships on the line.
The opportunity fell for Canelo after he stopped his mandatory challenger Yildirim in the third round in front of 12,000 fans at the home of the Miami Dolphins, and is now set to further cement his status as the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer.
Saunders has a major chance to end Canelo’s stunning form after Callum Smith failed to do so in December.
Canelo has set his sights on Saunders’ WBO belt in his bid to become the undisputed super-middleweight champion (Caleb Plant’s IBF belt is the final objective and could yet happen before the end of the year).
Yildirim was knocked to the canvas in the third round then retired on his stool as Canelo clinched the 55th victory of his career so far.
Yildirim barely landed a punch against the brilliant Canelo whose only defeat in an elite career came against Floyd Mayweather in 2014.
Canelo will now turn his attention to another quick turnaround against Saunders in May, a fight that was initially set for 2020.
Canelo has already beaten six Brits – Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding, and Callum Smith – but Saunders represents a unique test as an undefeated southpaw.